UEFA Champions League English

Zinedine Zidane assumes responsibility for Real Madrid’s 3-2 loss to a depleted Shakhtar Donetsk

Despite being depleted of 10 first-team players and nine members of staff due to coronavirus infections, Shakhtar Donetsk overcame all odds to record a remarkable win over La Liga champions Real Madrid at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium, after scoring thrice.

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane called for cool heads to prevail after his side lost 3-2 in their Champions League opener at home to a vastly depleted Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, this being their second consecutive defeat ahead of the Clasico against Barcelona on Saturday.

“We lacked a bit of everything, but above all our confidence, which is the most important thing,” said Zidane.

“What is important for us now is to stay calm. It’s a bad night and we have to make things better.”

Strikes from Tete and Manor Solomon, either side of a Raphael Varane own-goal, gave Shakhtar a shock lead at the interval and while Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior pulled goals back, Madrid fell short. Fede Valverde equaliser in injury time was ruled out after VAR showed Vinicius was offside.

This huge upset puts Madrid on the back foot in Group B, especially as Shakhtar were theoretically their weakest opponent, the others being Inter Milan and Borussia Moenchengladbach. The loss piles up the pressure on the La Liga title holders ahead of the Clasico in La Liga on Saturday, and on Zidane, who had just overseen a lamentable display in last weekend’s loss to Cadiz.

“I am responsible,” said Zidane. “The first half was negative for my team so it’s something I haven’t done well.”

“I’m the coach,” he added. “I have to find the solution.”

Zidane paid the price for rotating his starting line-up against Cadiz and he shuffled his team again for the encounter with the Hungarian champions, presumably in anticipation of the upcoming clash at the Camp Nou.

Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema both started on the bench and had to come on in the second half while Eder Militao, in for the injured Sergio Ramos, Rodrygo and Marco Asensio were given chances to impress.

Madrid have now lost seven out of their last eight Champions League games without Ramos, who is expected to return against Barca.